Our Leadership

Co-Founder & Chair: Secretary Norman Y. Mineta

When Californians elected Japanese American, Norman Mineta, to the House of Representatives, they were giving rise to not only one of the most successful Japanese Americans in the history of the nation, but also to a public servant who would elevate their nation from certain division. Growing up in an internment camp during World War II, Mr. Mineta understood explicitly the scourge of a divided country. When tensions rose up against 200,000 fellow Americans because of their Arab descent following September 11th, it was Norman Mineta who fought successfully against their discrimination, against profiling them, and against the impulse to call American Arabs other than fellow Americans. These actions benefit all Americans. For his many contributions to the quality of life of Americans, he would receive the Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Medal for his contributions to civil rights, the Panetta Institute’s Jefferson Lincoln Award for his bipartisan leadership and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award. His contributions from which we all enjoy a better America are too numerous to mention.

When Californians elected Japanese American, Norman Mineta, to the House of Representatives, they were giving rise to not only one of the most successful Japanese Americans in the history of the nation, but also to a public servant who would elevate their nation from certain division.

Growing up in an internment camp during World War II, Mr. Mineta understood explicitly the scourge of a divided country. When tensions rose up against 200,000 fellow Americans because of their Arab descent following September 11th, it was Norman Mineta who fought successfully against their discrimination, against profiling them, and against the impulse to call American Arabs other than fellow Americans. These actions benefit all Americans. For his many contributions to the quality of life of Americans, he would receive the Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Medal for his contributions to civil rights, the Panetta Institute’s Jefferson Lincoln Award for his bipartisan leadership and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award. The Medal recognizes high achievement in public service, science, the arts, education, athletics and other fields. His contributions from which we all enjoy a better America are too numerous to mention.

Secretary Mineta's career in public service has been distinguished and unique. Secretary Mineta brings a wealth of experience and insight to America's Opportunity Fund, having served in Congress for over twenty years. Mineta was the primary author of the groundbreaking ISTEA legislation – the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991, and also the co-founder of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus and Chair of the National Civil Aviation Review Commission.

He served in the Cabinet of both Republican and Democratic presidents, first as Secretary of Commerce under President Clinton, and in 2001 was appointed Secretary of Transportation under President Bush. He is the longest serving Secretary of Transportation in history. Currently, Mr. Mineta is Vice Chairman of Hill & Knowlton and is based in its Washington, DC office.

Co-Founder & Former Co-Chair: Secretary Gary Locke

Gary LockeSecretary Gary Locke is currently the Secretary of Commerce in President Obama's cabinet. He is the first Chinese American in that position and the third Asian American in the current cabinet. 

Gary Locke was elected Washington's 21st governor on Nov. 5, 1996, making him the first Chinese-American governor in U.S. history. On Nov. 7, 2000, Locke was re-elected to his second term. As governor, he worked to make Washington a better place to live, work and raise a family.

Born into an immigrant family on Jan. 21, 1950, Locke spent his first six years in Seattle's Yesler Terrace, a public housing project for families of World War II veterans. He worked in his father's grocery store, became an Eagle Scout and graduated with honors from Seattle's Franklin High School in 1968. Then, through a combination of part-time jobs, financial aid and scholarships, Locke attended Yale University, where he received his bachelor's degree in political science in 1972.

After earning a law degree from Boston University in 1975, he worked for several years as a deputy prosecutor in King County, prosecuting people for crimes such as robbery and murder. In 1982, Locke was elected to the Washington State House of Representatives, where he served on the House Judiciary and Appropriations committees, with his final five years as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.

Prior to his term as governor, Locke was elected chief executive of King County in 1993 and took on all of the challenges facing Washington's most complex urban area.

Locke and his wife, Mona Lee Locke, a former reporter for KING 5 television in Seattle, are the parents of Emily Nicole, Dylan James, and Madeline Lee.